A British dish, influenced by India, paired with an American beer, influenced by Germany. It's like a complicated wedding right on the table.
Like anyone else that's been to an Indian restaurant in the United States or Great Britain, I've enjoyed the big plate of chicken tikka masala from time to time. It's pretty well known by now that this is not an authentic Indian recipe; although its precise origins are unclear, it was developed in the UK as an attempt to adapt Indian food for the British palate.
I looked at several dozen recipes online, and none of them matched up. I'm not talking about a difference of a certain spice or cut of chicken. The only consistent part of any chicken tikka masala recipe is... chicken. For instance, the red color can come from food coloring or tomatoes. (And it doesn't have to be red; varieties from yellow to deep crimson exist.) For the tomatoes, the quantity required for a recipe serving four varied from a tablespoon of tomato paste to a 28 oz. can of crushed tomatoes. Adding a creamy texture? Optional, but cream, milk, yogurt, or coconut milk are used, all of which behave differently when cooked.
I decided to ditch the recipes and just freestyle it. Half a stick of butter, an onion, a bell pepper, all sautéed. Add in some garam masala and a healthy dose of cayenne pepper. Throw in a big can of crushed tomatoes. Blend, allow to simmer. Add yogurt. Mix in leftover chicken and let simmer for a while.
The result wasn't perfect, but it was definitely edible. Not quite like what I've had in restaurants, but it worked OK. I made some basmati rice and picked up some naan from the grocery store. (Yes, it is easy enough to make naan, but I was using up leftovers and trying to keep things simple.)
When it comes to Indian food, I prefer beer to wine, though you could probably crack open a Gewürtztraminer. I picked up a sixer of a beer I'd never seen before, the Southampton Publick House Altbier brewed on Long Island in New York. It pours a dark amber color with a head that disappears quickly. It's lightly hopped and has a bittersweet quality to it--well balanced. Slight roasted quality, but what I love most about this beer is that it's got a great malt flavor, something I haven't had in a beer in a while. In fact, this Düsseldorf-style beer is similar to the Germantown Alt I cut my teeth on at the dearly departed Bosco's in Saddle Creek. Don't get me wrong, I love the beers at the Midtown location, but I miss having a brewpub on this side of town.